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Love of theater brings Wichitan home

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Dec. 5, 2011, at 12 a.m.

The good part about talking to Lauren Kadel on the phone is that she is so joyful she’ll make you smile. The bad part is not being able to see her bright eyes and big smile.

Lauren grew up in Wichita, but now can boast that she’s been in every state except Hawaii. She’ll be home when the show “Young Frankenstein” comes to town this week. She says it’s a real bonus when one of the shows she’s touring with comes to Wichita because she gets to see her parents, Shelli and Craig Kadel.

“It’s my favorite, and this time, I’ll get to see mom and dad every day and I won’t have to get up early,” she said.

Lauren is what theater folks call “a swing.” She fills in when someone in the ensemble is sick or has time off. A few times, she has filled in for one of the lead characters. That means she has a lot of dance steps and, in some cases, a lot of lines, to learn and retain.

“If they need to take the night off, I won’t mind at all,” she said with a little laugh.

“And I’ve always been a dance captain. If I’m not in the show, I watch it from the audience and make sure everything looks clean and sparkly,” she said.

She’s been a dancer since the age of 5 when she took ballet from Sharon Rogers, then added tap at age 6, then jazz and so on.

“I was with her as my teacher to age 18,” Lauren said.

Lauren also has fond memories of being in several Music Theatre of Wichita shows.

“I was a teen tapper in ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’ ” she said. Then she reminded me that I was in the same show, and we had a conversation about her family.

“Wayne (Bryan, producing director of MTW) is so amazing of course. I loved being in those five shows and helping in the costume shop,” she said.

Lauren and her husband of nearly three years, musician Shannon Seals, met when they were touring with “The Producers.” They have an apartment in Brooklyn but aren’t there much of the year. Since she is on tour about 32 weeks a year, it’s fortunate he usually gets a job in the same show.

“We decided we’d do this before we stay put and start a family,” she said.

When I talked with her on the phone, she was in Greeley, Colo., getting ready to leave for Colorado Springs, then Billings, Mont., Casper, Wyo., and after these stops and more, Wichita on Thursday.

She explained that all theaters are not created equal. She says it’s interesting to go so many places because the show has to adapt to the size of the theater, and sometimes it’s a challenge.

“But we just work with what they have and make it happen, because it’s very important to bring theater to a community, especially when it’s a community that doesn’t have many opportunities to see live theater,” she said.

“Along with all the sports, the academics and everything, we need the arts because it is a different dimension. For two and a half hours, they can step outside the world they’re living in and forget their problems. They can come and play and laugh. It’s great to have that language with the audience,” she said.

She is well-traveled, but she still loves Kansas and remembers being on the stage of Century II. She said that’s when she knew.

“I thought, ‘All right. This is a good time. I could do this for a living. I could definitely get into this.’ ”

And she did.

Read more about the show at Kansas.com/entertainment.

Don’t forget to enter!

Get out and find your holiday outfit by spending no more than $20.12, and enter the contest we’re having. Super shoppers go to either resale shops or regular retail stores to find the winning outfit. You’ll be featured in this section wearing your outfit. Get all the details on Kansas.com/fashion.

Reach Bonnie Bing at bbing@wichitaeagle.com or 316-268-6246.

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